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Stocks to watch: New Zealand equity preview

Wednesday 17th September 2008

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The following stocks may be active on the New Zealand exchange after developments since the close of trading yesterday.

Themes of the day: The Federal Reserve kept its rate target unchanged at 2%, resisting calls to ease credit in the midst of Wall Street's financial turmoil and signalling it will continue to ease liquidity via emergency loans. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained on speculation a rescue bid may be hatched for insurer American International Group. Crude oil for October delivery fell 4.8% to $91.15 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. New Zealand's dollar recently traded at about 66.12 US cents and 70.05 yen. Glitches in the Austraclear system overnight mean the settlement start time for today has been extended to 10am from 9:30am.

Air New Zealand (AIR): Drier cabins and winglets on the airline's five Boeing 767-300ER aircraft will cut the fuel bill by more than $7.5 million a year, it said yesterday. Driers will reduce cabin moisture, creating a surprising 200 kilograms of weight. The shares have tumbled 45% this year and traded at NZ$1.04 yesterday.

Contact Energy (CEN): The biggest utility on the NZX 50 Index will retain its half owner, Origin Energy, after the failure of BG Group's hostile takeover bid for the Australian parent. Some investors have speculated that there's scope for Origin to increase its holding in the New Zealand company. Contact stock traded at NZ$8.87 yesterday and has gained 5% this year.

NZ Wind Farms (NWF): The company today said it has successfully commissioned the transmission cable and reticulation assets to connect the company's Te Rere Hau wind farm to the national electricity grid. The stock has fallen 14% this year and traded at 95 cents yesterday.

Plus SMS Holdings (PLS): Chief executive Chris Tiensch and chief financial officer Les Coates resigned yesterday, the company said, offering no explanation. Recently, the company's shareholders held over a decision to issue 13.5 million shares to Tiensch, opting to seek a second legal opinion on the proposal and putting it to another meeting on September 25. The shares fell to 3 cents from 5.7 cents on the NZAX market yesterday and have dropped 59% this year.

Telecom (TEL): Telecommunications Commissioner Dr Ross Patterson said the company has provided information that satisfies him it has remedied a breach to its separation undertakings on June 30. The technical breach related to lack of communication over the way Telecom classifies customer service addresses. The stock touched a 15-year low NZ$2.79 yesterday, giving the company a market value of NZ$5.1 billion. The stock has dropped 36% this year.

By Jonathan Underhill

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